Archive for October, 2018

EPA declares ’emergency’ asbestos cleanup in Montana town

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For the past ten years, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been overseeing the asbestos clean-up in the small town of Libby, Montana, which has been on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List since 2002.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration declared Libby and the immediate area a “public health emergency”. Under this state of emergency the EPA is increasing clean-up assistance and medical care. According to federal prosecutors, asbestos has taken 200 lives and is the root cause of at least 1,000 illnesses in the surrounding area.

“This is a tragic public health situation that has not received the recognition it deserves by the federal government for far too long,” according to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

In the 1920’s The Zonolite Company began producing vermiculite, a mineral that is often used in insulation. Between 1963 and 1990, W.R. Grace & Company took over the mine operations. Tremolite asbestos was discovered in the vermiculite product. A study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry discovered that the incidence of asbestosis in the population of the mine site area is far higher than the national average.

Airborne asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a cancer which develops in the sac surrounding the lungs and chest cavity, the abdominal cavity, or the sac surrounding the heart. Prolonged exposure can lead to lung scarring, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma generally are left with six months to a year before death.

We will continue to push until Libby has a clean bill of health.

The tremolite dust from the mine began leaking into the air from the plant in 1919. This resulted in a hazy asbestos dust cloud covering lawns, cars, clothing, and school athletic fields, creating an issue that citizens of Libby had to deal with on an everyday basis. The large amount of dust gave the impression of the aftereffects of a light sandstorm.

W. R. Grace and Company did not deny that asbestos was found contaminating the vermiculite in the old mine. They said they proceeded in a responsible manner to clean up contamination following the mine closure. Grace will reimburse the EPA for US$250 million of the US$333 million that the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services has set aside for medical expenses and asbestos clean-up. This money will be invested over the next five years, and does not include the millions in medical costs already footed by the company for residents of Libby and the nearby town of Troy.

“Today is the day that after years of work we were able to succeed in getting this [emergency declaration] done,” Senator from Montana Max Baucus said, speaking at the EPA press conference. “We will continue to push until Libby has a clean bill of health.”

eBay removes Canadian town’s listing of sperm whale carcass

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Citing violations of its policy regarding “Marine mammal items”, eBay terminated an online listing on Monday by the town of Cape St. George, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, for a 40 ft (12 m) sperm whale carcass reportedly beached upon its shores about a week prior.

With an initial asking price of 99 cents, bidding for the carcass reportedly rose to C$238.03 within 15 bids. Reports variously state the final price of the whale, prior to the removal of the listing from the auction site on Monday at about 2:30pm, was C$2,025 or C$2,075. Listed in eBay’s “really weird” category, the carcass was considered by eBay to be an example of “items made from marine mammals regardless of when the product was made”, which are prohibited as per site rules.

Following a council meeting on Sunday in the town of 950 residents, Cape St. George’s mayor, Peter Fenwick, put the whale up on the auction site in a bid to have it removed from the town’s premises, citing a lack of cooperation from provincial and federal government officials on the matter. “It’s your problem, you solve it”, Fenwick recounted to The Globe and Mail (TGaM) as the response he received from them. Apart from eBay, Kijiji was also suggested as another avenue by which to sell the carcass.

Fenwick told CTV News, several years prior another sperm whale measuring 15 ft was beached in the area, but disappeared without incident, an act Fenwick attributed to be the work of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “This time”, he remarked, “the authorities have told us that it’s our whale, it’s our responsibility to get rid of it.”

On putting the carcass for sale, Fenwick remarked, “We knew we had to do something with it and this seemed to be the least expensive way of disposing of it.” In a news release, Fenwick highlighted a possible use for the carcass, particularly its bones. “The 40 foot sperm whale will make a spectacular exhibit once the fat and muscle is removed, and the town is asking museums and other organizations that could use a whale skeleton to contact the town for further details.”

On retaining the whale himself, Fenwick stated, “As a town we would dearly love to keep the whale and put it on exhibit in the town but the cost of such a venture would be hard to justify.” Fenwick told TGaM the whale was “in half decent shape”. “This one looks like it died very recently and hasn’t decomposed much”, which Fenwick suggested elsewhere was due to the whale’s present location, partially submerged in near-freezing water. However, Fenwick noted its close proximity to a residential area, saying homeowners who lived there were “very interested in seeing the whale gone.”

eBay was not the only organization who barred the sale from taking place. “We also got threatened by the federal department of the environment, and told to pull the ad off or they would prosecute us”, said Fenwick on the opposition he said he received from Environment Canada, which viewed the sale as contravening a federal act designed to protect endangered species. “I received a call from the federal department of the environment saying that you’re not allowed to sell any parts of sperm whales, even if they’re dead.” he added. “So I said, ‘Oh that’s very good, I’m glad to hear that, now can you send somebody over here to get rid of it for us?'” Fenwick’s request was met with a negative response from Environment Canada.

“They’ve got to sort it out somehow. The uncertainty means it just sort of sits there and rots.” Once decomposition sets in, Fenwick remarked the carcass would become a “real nuisance”. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a whale that’s been rotting on the beach for a couple of months — actually sometimes you can’t see it for the clouds of flies around it — but you can smell it for about a mile”, he added.

On finding alternate means to dispose of the carcass, Wayne Ledwell, a member of Newfoundland’s Whale Release and Strandings, suggested the whale be towed out to a remote area. “They need to do that right away, when they come in and they’re fresh,” said Ledwell. “No one wants to go touch them … everything becomes gooey and slippery and you can’t stand up on the whale and it gets on your boots and you can’t get the smell off and then you go home and the dog rolls in it and you get it in your kitchen and you curse the whales, and you curse the government and … it becomes a mess.” Fenwick said they’d considered the idea, enlisting a local fisherman who, however, judged his engine too small for the job.

Previously, blue whale carcasses washed ashore in the towns of Trout River and Rocky Harbour, located about 150 km further north, and were taken by Royal Ontario Museum for preservation of the skeletons. Fenwick suggested the sperm whale carcass in his town might also meet a similar fate, as the sperm whale’s status as the largest toothed whale might prove to be a drawing attraction for such a facility.

Regarding what he plans to do next with the carcass, Fenwick said “If we’re not allowed to sell it, we’re willing to drop our 99 cent price down to a zero.” He said he hoped some eBay bidder stays interested in the whale. “We’ll be glad to talk to them about giving them the whale. We’re hoping that’s not illegal.” He also said he hoped the publicity from the town’s predicament, which garnered national attention, and its unusual means of finding a solution, would draw in someone interested in taking the whale off his hands at their own expense.

Should the whale fall under new ownership, Fenwick advised it be moved away from the town to a beach devoid of people, and the blubber left as food for seagulls, insects, and other predators. He estimated “It’ll probably take a year or so to get down to the skeleton.” As monetary gain was reportedly not what the town cared about, Fenwick was willing to offer the carcass for free, though one report noted money raised from the listing could have gone towards the building of a skate park.

The listing on eBay, as put up by Fenwick, read:

This 40 foot sperm whale rolled up on the beach last week. The actual seller is the town of Cape St. George which is responsible for disposing of it before it starts to decay. Once the fat and flesh is removed you have a spectacular 40 foot skeleton of the largest toothed whale in the world, great for museums and other attractions. To prevent it rotting in the town it can be towed to isolated beaches on the Port au Port Peninsula to allow the seagulls and other birds to remove the flesh. Call 709-644-2290 or 709-649-7070 for more details.

Please note the successful bidder will have to remove the whale within 30 days

Toyota fined $16 million by US government over recalls

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

US regulators intend to fine Toyota Motor Company $16.4 million over allegations that the company failed to notify government officials in “a timely way” about flaws in its vehicles that led to a major recall earlier this year.

The fine is the maximum penalty allowed under current US law, and would be the largest ever against an automaker, dwarfing a $1 million fine against General Motors in 2004. The U.S. Transportation Department is also considering the possibility of further fines if it was determined that the company had committed other violations of US law. The fine is the result of an investigation opened on February 16 into Toyota’s actions during the recall of 2.3 million vehicles in the US. Toyota now has a period of two weeks in which it can appeal the fine.

They knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.

Current law requires an automaker to notify the US government within five days if it has determined that a safety issue exists in one of its vehicles. Internal Toyota documents obtained by the government showed that the company was aware of the issues in its cars as early as September 2009, well before it reported the problems to the US government in January.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the government has “proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” and that “they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.”

Toyota, in a statement posted on their website, said that “We have already taken a number of important steps to improve our communications with regulators and customers on safety-related matters as part of our strengthened overall commitment to quality assurance.” The statement added, “These include the appointment of a new Chief Quality Officer for North America and a greater role for the region in making safety-related decisions.”

Dance party broken up by police in Utah, USA

Monday, August 22, 2005

About 90 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies broke up what they said was a rave party on public and private property in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon, an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday (5:30 Sunday UTC).

According to the county, the Sheriff’s Office had been investigating similar parties since the beginning of the season. In a press release from the Sheriff’s Office in Utah County, the department states that previous allegations of sexual abuse at other raves, as well as various firearm and theft violations, were reasons for the investigation. The release continues on to state that the proper permit was not obtained before the event started.The promoters deny this allegation and insist that all permits were legally obtained before the event.

Armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, tasers, and tear gas, the police used dogs to sweep the crowd for narcotics. At least one helicopter was used in the operation, which served as a large spotlight for the ground teams. Prior to raiding the show, several unnamed police informants had reportedly told police that they had observed some “illegal activities”.

The promoter says the party took place on private property, named Child’s Ranch, with express permission from the owner. The property owner has apparently had at least one previous lawsuit with police over a similar event. Utah County requires a permit, bond and county commission approval for all gatherings with more than 250 people present and which can be expected to continue for 12 hours or more. DJ time slots and Pro Audio and Lighting contracts show that the party was scheduled to go on for no more than ten hours. According to a DJ at the event, “They presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total.” He added that by the time police arrived “the crowd was about 1,500”.

The police have publicly stated that only a permit from the health department was obtained, and that a Utah mass gathering permit was needed. The promoters have stated that they had the required permit, and have given a permit number (# 2005-11). Jay Stone, who handles mass gathering permits for the Utah County Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health Services, has confirmed that the permit was applied for and granted for the party. Officials also claim that the party had spilled over onto public land, and that more than 60 arrests were made in total – for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and one instance of a weapons offense, a pistol which was found in the home of the private property owners. Among the confiscated items and drugs found were cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, mushrooms, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia. Some of the drugs may include those confiscated from attendees by private security guards – who were also arrested.

Amateur video from the scene shows a number of SWAT police (Sheriff’s press release places the figure at 90) screaming orders at the DJs to “Shut it down now!” and yelling at others to “get out now, or I’ll kick your ass in jail.” Armed police are also seen tackling two attendees, Alaisha Matagi and Paul Maka. It is unclear from the video footage whether these actions were provoked or not. However, those shown on the two-minute long footage that are being forced to the ground do not appear to be resisting arrest. Both Matagi and Maka are charged with failure to obey a police officer and resisting arrest – Maka is also charged with interfering with police. Sheriff Jim Tracy stated in an email that both of them were tackled and arrested after assaulting a deputy, however, neither of them are being charged with assaulting a police officer.

A first hand account from a DJ booked to play at the party stated that while police were arresting a man accused of possession, the suspect was beaten to the ground and continually “kicked in the ribs” by four armed “soldiers” dressed in camouflage. The item was not shown on the video footage. According to the account, nobody resisted the policemen, and the crowd was orderly, but tear gas was thrown at the partiers as they attempted to leave as instructed. The DJ also states that police were attempting to confiscate video equipment, but an amateur video has still surfaced on the internet (see sources below). The video appears to have been taken near the DJ stand before it was moved to show more of the action.

Several attendees felt they should have the right to attend an event where drugs may be present, so long as they don’t personally use them. “While it may be true that some individuals choose to take drugs at said events like this, myself as well as many others choose to go for the music. Just like anything, you have bad apples, but you shouldn’t cut down the tree,” said one attendee. “Raves are not the only musical gatherings where drugs are used and distributed,” said another.

Other event-goers felt that the use of force in the shutdown was excessive – numerous eyewitness accounts by concertgoers describe people being beaten, tasered, or attacked with dogs. An email from Sheriff Jim Tracy stated that dogs and tasers were present at the raid, however, he also states that the tasers were not used on anyone, and that no dogs were deployed against concertgoers.

One account from an attendee, identified as “Colby”, states:

“I saw at least two people being beaten on the ground while barking, snarling dogs are held just a few feet from them. Weapons were being pointed at unarmed, peaceful civilians. A friend of mine was forced at gunpoint to put his hands on his head and turn around, because he asked if he could get his things from the tent.”

Utah County sheriff’s Sergeant Darren Gilbert also alleged that a 17-year-old girl was found overdosed on ecstasy, and was treated and released to her parents. According to an advertisement for the event, an attorney was present at the party. The local sheriff is scheduled to appear on Utah TV.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Volunteers and food needed for flooded Manitoba, Canada

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Local municipal and provincial volunteers in Manitoba, Canada are exhausted in their efforts to divert the rising waters of the Red River of the North.

It has been hard work with little sleep for the residents who live on the shores of the Red River to shore up their defences with sandbags, build dikes, clear frozen culverts and break ice jams

Volunteers to spell relief for local volunteers and food are desperately needed.

“It’s a week now we’ve been doing this … you’re talking four, five, six public works guys. In my one community we’ve got 25 volunteer firefighters and those guys have been going 24/7, so of course it’s wearing them down.” said Paul Guyader, Manitoba’s emergency measures coordinator.

“We’re dealing with one of the biggest floods the province has ever seen,” said Steve Strang, mayor of St. Clements, Manitoba “We’ve put out hundreds of thousands of bags already. The municipalities are working very well, we’re working with the provincial government, we’ve brought in every possible resource we could to address this issue. The volunteerism within the community has been phenomenal.”

The Portage Diversion has taken some spring waters from the Assiniboine River and diverted the flow to Lake Manitoba.

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation has been totally evacuated, as well as many homes near the Canada – United States border.

The cold weather is freezing the ice jams into place. Guyader has had 2 Amphibex Excavators operating on the river breaking up ice.

The Red River is right now 16.7 feet (5 metres) above spring ice conditions. The Red River Floodway gates cannot be opened with the current ice jams.

“If we operate now, we can get ice jamming going into the floodway, jamming up against the St. Mary’s bridge, as such, the floodway capacity would be reduced and would cause higher water levels in the city of Winnipeg.” said Steve Topping, Manitoba Water Stewardship spokesman

The floodway was constructed in 1968 following the 1950 flood to divert the overflow spring flooding waters of the Red River. The floodway has been widened the since the 1997 “flood of the century” and the expansion is expected to be completed this spring. As well Manitoba built permanent dikes around communities within the flood plain since the last two major floods..

The Red River waters will crest between the beginning of April to mid April, at which time also the weather should be warming up. Communities are bracing for higher water levels, more ice jams as well as melting snow in the warmer spring temperatures.

Arson charge for man who cleaned home with gasoline

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ernest Krajniak from Chilton, Wisconsin in the United States has been charged with arson after a lit cigarette ignited gasoline soaked clothes, setting his apartment ablaze.

On Friday April 3, Krajniak, 47, cleaned his entire apartment with about five gallons of gasoline, wiping everything down with the soaked clothes. After he was finished, he piled the soaked clothes in the center of his bedroom, lit a cigarette and then threw what was left of the still lit cigarette, into the pile.

Krajniak never called the fire department and never pulled the alarm. Instead he yelled ‘fire’ a few times then walked to the police station where an ambulance took him to a local hospital for the treatment of minor burns. The fire department later arrived to put out the blaze and his apartment was extensively smoke damaged. 11 other apartments were also damaged, leaving the occupants without a place to stay for at least a week.

“I should have never used that,” said Krajniak during a court appearance on Monday. He admitted to knowing that gasoline was highly flammable. He was arrested and his bond has been set a US$2,500. Krajniak’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, April 13. According to WISinfo.com, Krajniak has no prior criminal record.

The careless smoking of cigarettes has been blamed for thousands of fires across the U.S. In January 2008, an unnamed elderly woman in Buffalo, New York was receiving oxygen for medical problems in her home and lit a cigarette and began to smoke it. The oxygen coming from her mask then facilitated the ignition of her clothing, setting her on fire.

In the U.S. in 2002, only 4% of all residential fires were reportedly caused by smoking materials. These fires, however, were responsible for 19% of residential fire fatalities and 9% of injuries. The fatality rate due to smoking is nearly four times higher than the overall residential fire rate; injuries are more than twice as likely. Forty percent of all smoking fires start in the bedroom or living room/family room; in 35% of these fires, bedding or upholstered furniture are the items first ignited.

ACLU President Strossen on religion, drugs, guns and impeaching George Bush

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

There are few organizations in the United States that elicit a stronger emotional response than the American Civil Liberties Union, whose stated goal is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States”. Those people include gays, Nazis, women seeking abortion, gun owners, SPAM mailers and drug users. People who are often not popular with various segments of the public. The ACLU’s philosophy is not that it agrees or disagrees with any of these people and the choices that they make, but that they have personal liberties that must not be trampled upon.

In Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with the President of the ACLU, Nadine Strossen, he wanted to cover some basic ground on the ACLU’s beliefs. Perhaps the area where they are most misunderstood or have their beliefs most misrepresented is their feelings about religion in the public sphere. The ACLU categorically does not want to see religion disappear from schools or in the public forum; but they do not want to see government advocacy of any particular religion. Thus, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s placement of a ten ton monument to the Ten Commandments outside the courthouse is strenuously opposed; but “Lone Ranger of the Manger” Rita Warren’s placement of nativity scenes in public parks is vigorously defended. In the interview, Strossen talks about how certain politicians and televangelists purposefully misstate the law and the ACLU’s work in order to raise funds for their campaigns.

David Shankbone’s discussion with Strossen touches upon many of the ACLU’s hot button issues: religion, Second Amendment rights, drug liberalization, “partial-birth abortion” and whether or not George W. Bush should be impeached. It may surprise the reader that many ideas people have about the most visible of America’s civil libertarian organizations are not factually correct and that the ACLU often works closely with many of the organizations people think despise its existence.

Contents

  • 1 Strossen’s background
  • 2 Religion in schools
  • 3 Religious symbols
  • 4 How the ACLU is misrepresented by politicians and televangelists
  • 5 The abortion debate
  • 6 Judicial activism
  • 7 Capital punishment and criminal justice
  • 8 Decriminalization of drugs and suicide
  • 9 War and threats to humanity
  • 10 Should George Bush be impeached?
  • 11 Gun rights
  • 12 Strossen’s philosophy
  • 13 Sources

Polish mine explosion kills 8

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Methane gas was blamed for the explosion deaths of 8 miners in southern Polish‘s Halemba coal mine Tuesday, November 21. Officials say at least 15 are missing.

Rescue efforts were halted because dangerously high levels of methane gas returned, according to Zbigniew Madej, spokesman for state-owned Coal Co., which operates the mine.

The missing miners’ locater devices were not emitting signals, increasing rescurers’ concerns for their well-being. Grzegorz Pawlaszek, head of Coal Co., said the 15 missing miners’ fate is “not known,” but added that “there is a chance to find someone still alive.”

“This is a tragedy. People have died here,” Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said when he came to Ruda Slaska to see the blast.

Earlier Wednesday, a reconnaissance rescue team descended 3000 feet toward the blast scene, only to retreat because of safety concerns related to high methane gas levels. Rescue digging efforts were also halted because of explosion concerns.

The missing men were aged 21-59. One of the miner’s family members, Andrzej Pytlik, 30, remained on scene with his sister, hoping and waiting for news of her husband, Krystian Gaszka.

Pytlik, also a miner, said through teary eyes that, “I work in the mines and I know that hope is scant because that’s the truth.”

The explosion occurred in a closed portion of the mine where the now-missing miners were working to retrieve abandoned equipment. According to Pawlaszek, the value of the equipment was $23 million, adding that “It was new equipment and that is why we decided to retrieve it.”

He indicated that the recovery work was performed under the supervision of gas detection specialists, and that the bodies of the recovered miners were difficult to identify because of the severity of burns and because their ID tags were blown away in the explosion.

The Halemba mine, located in Ruda Slaska, has produced coal for nearly 50 years, has been fraught with safety concerns and has a track record of serious accidents. One of the oldest mines in Poland, it is centrally located in the industrial Silesia region.

Earlier this year, a miner was trapped underground in the Halemba mine five days after a cave-in. In 1990, 19 miners were killed and 20 hurt in a gas explosion, and five were killed in collapse in 1991.

Inside, priests and mining officials were comforting and counseling with distraught relatives. Outside, eight white candles flickered on a main gate wall.

Ethics debate surrounds surgery to stunt disabled girl’s growth

Friday, January 5, 2007

An ethical controversy has surged in the United States and elsewhere around nine-year-old Ashley X (her family name has not been released). The disabled girl was operated upon at the request of her parents, to prevent her from growing, menstruating and developing breasts. The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, explain their situation on a blog entitled The “Ashley Treatment”. There have been over 1000 reactions on the blog so far.

Ashley suffers a condition termed static encephalopathy with marked global developmental deficits of unknown etiology, which means brain damage of unknown cause leading to a kind of static condition. She can make sounds, move her arms and kick her legs, but she cannot change her position, eat, walk, talk etc. Many of these children are in poor health and die young, but Ashley is in good health. For all of these functions she depends on her caregivers. Most of the day she passes watching her surrounding, lying on a pillow. Her parents call her their “Pillow Angel”, “since she is so sweet and stays right where we place her—usually on a pillow.”

Quote

Ashley can continue to delight in being held in our arms and will be moved and taken on trips more frequently and will have more exposure to activities and social gatherings.

-Ashley’s Mom and Dad

Ashley’s parents want to keep her at home and care for her themselves, and they want to guarantee their daughter’s quality of life. To this end, they say, Ashley underwent several surgical procedures and medical treatments during a period of three years. To attenuate her growth, Ashley was given high doses of the hormone estrogen. Ashley now measures 4ft 5 (1m 35cm) and weighs around 75 lbs (34 kg), which is below her expected length and weight. Her low body weight and size would improve her comfort, and at the same time facilitate the work of her caregivers.

Surgery to remove her uterus (a procedure called a hysterectomy) and breast buds were performed, so Ashley does not menstruate and will not develop breasts, both of which parents think only would cause her discomfort. Since high estrogen levels can cause menstrual bleeding and breast development, the surgery was also meant to limit these effects. She also underwent surgery to remove her appendix, because it would be difficult to diagnose appendicitis given Ashley’s low communication possibilities.

US automakers GM and Chrysler seek more government aid

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The United States auto manufacturer Chrysler, which has been badly affected by the ongoing recession, has asked the US government for an additional US$5 billion in aid on top of the four billion it has already received, saying that it plans to fire three thousand employees. At the end of last year, the auto maker had just over 54,000 employees, meaning that the layoffs will equal about six percent of its total workforce.

In addition, Chrysler will cut the Chrysler Aspen, PT Cruiser, and Durango from production.

Another automaker, General Motors (GM), announced that it seeks $16.6 billion in loans from the government, in addition to the $13.4 billion that it has already received. GM plans to lay off 47,000 employees and close five factories. GM says that it might need as much as $30 billion from the US Treasury Department, an increase over their previous estimate of $18 billion. The company has warned that it might run out of money by March if more aid was not given.

Rick Wagoner, GM’s chief executive, described the firm’s plan as “comprehensive, responsive, achievable, and flexible”. “We have a lot of work in front of us, but I am confident it will result in a profitable General Motors,” he said, adding that “today’s plan is significantly more aggressive because it has to be.” GM says that it could be profitable in two years’ time, and might be able to repay all its loans by 2017.

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A third US car manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, has said that it can make it through this year without any government aid.

The US Treasury Department will review the car makers’ survival plans for several weeks before a decision is made on whether or not to extend the loans. That decision is due by the end of next month.

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